- Buccaneers WR Mike Evans has an absolute smash spot this week against a banged-up Panthers secondary that doesn’t look all that capable of matching him even if healthy.
- Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase has the week’s official “Get your popcorn ready” matchup against Falcons CB A.J. Terrell.
- Steelers WR Diontae Johnson could flirt with an upper-range outcome against Xavien Howard and this banged-up Dolphins secondary.
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Shadow matchups are when a defense assigns a particular cornerback to follow one specific wide receiver all over the field.
Of course, wide receivers often can overcome difficult one-on-one matchups thanks to good ole’ fashioned volume. It’s also rare that a cornerback follows a single receiver around the field for each and every route. This leads to situations where Jalen Ramsey “shuts down” Justin Jefferson in their direct coverage (3-25-0), but Jefferson’s full game line (8-116-0) reflects the reality that fantasy managers were still better off playing him.
What follows is a breakdown on:
- Which cornerbacks shadowed in Week 6
- Projected Week 7 shadow matchups
- Notes on why certain cornerbacks aren’t expected to shadow
Week 6 shadow results
The following seven defenses deployed at least one of their cornerbacks in shadow coverage last week. Note that receiving production refers to what the player achieved during the entire game, not just specifically in the referenced cornerbacks’ direct coverage:
- Rams CB Derion Kendrick was assigned to D.J. Moore (3-7-0) all Sunday long. One could say Kendrick shut DJM down, but it’s tough to assign much blame when the man’s quarterback totaled *-1* air yards.
- Patriots CB Jalen Mills drew the assignment on Amari Cooper (4-44-1) and held up fairly well, although Cooper’s day would have been far bigger had Jacoby Brissett not been strip-sacked while attempting to target an open Cooper in the end zone from 22 yards out.
- Chargers CB Asante Samuel Jr. was tasked with tracking field-stretching WR K.J. Hamler (2-44-0); he did his job for all but one play of the Chargers’ Monday night victory over the Broncos.
- Broncos CB Patrick Surtain and Damarri Mathis tracked Mike Williams (2-17-0) and Josh Palmer (9-56-0), respectively. The former performance could have been bigger had the officials maybe bothered to review this near-chunk catch? And the latter could have been far bigger had Mathis not committed a whopping four pass interferences that netted the Chargers 87 additional penalty yards during the game.
- Dolphins CB Xavien Howard shadowed, and struggled, against Justin Jefferson (6-107-0) as expected. The Dolphins will need Howard to play better than ever with CB Nik Needham (Achilles, IR) joining Byron Jones (Achilles, PUP) on the sideline.
- Browns CB Greedy Williams and Martin Emerson followed Tyquan Thornton (4-37-1) and DeVante Parker (4-64-0) all over the field last Sunday. This isn’t normal and was undoubtedly an effect of Denzel Ward (concussion) missing the game.
- Cowboys CB Trevon Diggs and Anthony Brown squared off against A.J. Brown (5-67-1) and DeVonta Smith (5-44-1) on Sunday night.
Projected Week 7 shadow matchups
Buccaneers WR Mike Evans vs. Panthers CB Donte Jackson
The Panthers have leaned on Jackson as their No. 1 shadow corner whenever healthy and C.J. Henderson when not. The former is arguably the single fastest player in the NFL but doesn’t have the size (5-foot-10, 181-pounds) to really compete with Evans at the catch point. The latter tracked Evans in Week 18 last season … and gave up a 6-89-2 receiving line on just seven targets. Evans sure looks poised to blowup against this flammable secondary, particularly after he only saw four targets last week. Don’t sit Evans ever, but especially this week.
Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase vs. Falcons CB A.J. Terrell
While Terrell ranks just 93rd in PFF’s coverage grade, his strength of schedule explains why it’s tough to be too overly critical of his early-season performance. Terrell has shadowed four times through five weeks:
- Week 1: Michael Thomas (5-57-2)
- Week 3: D.K. Metcalf (5-64-1)
- Week 4: Amari Cooper (1-9-0)
- Week 5: Mike Evans (4-81-0)
Terrell didn’t specifically shadow Brandon Aiyuk last week, but that didn’t stop the theoretical ace corner from giving up a pair of touchdowns. He’s now allowed a league-high seven scores in his direct coverage on the season. You don’t need me to tell you to fire up Chase in lineups of all shapes and sizes; just realize this spot could actually be a bit more smashable than the name reputation at hand indicates.